Essays on God and Freud

 

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Six essays about the alleged incompatibility between God and modern science and four essays about Psychoanalysis and its role in the landscape of modern, scientific psychology and evidence-based psychotherapies.

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Essays on God and Freud 1st EDITION Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. Editing and Design: Lidija Rangelovska Lidija Rangelovska A Narcissus Publications Imprint, Skopje 2009 Not for Sale! Non-commercial edition.

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© 2002, 2009 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska. All rights reserved. This book, or any part thereof, may not be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from: Lidija Rangelovska – write to: palma@unet.com.mk Philosophical essays and Musings http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/culture.html World in Conflict and Transition http://samvak.tripod.com/guide.html Created by: LIDIJA RANGELOVSKA REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA

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CONTENTS GOD I. II. III. IV. V. VI. Introduction: Science, God, and Religion Is God Necessary? Is the World Necessary? Theodicy: The Problem of Evil Miracles, Wonders, Signs Appendix: Scientific Theories FREUD VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. In Defense of Psychoanalysis: Introduction The Revolution of Psychoanalysis Fundamentals of Scientific Theories Critique and Defense of Psychoanalysis The Author

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GOD

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God and Science Introduction "If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would strictly follow the teachings of the New, he would be insane" (Robert Ingersoll) If neurons were capable of introspection and worldrepresentation, would they have developed an idea of "Brain" (i.e., of God)? Would they have become aware that they are mere intertwined components of a larger whole? Would they have considered themselves agents of the Brain - or its masters? When a neuron fires, is it instructed to do so by the Brain or is the Brain an emergent phenomenon, the combined and rather accidental outcome of millions of individual neural actions and pathways? There are many kinds of narratives and organizing principles. Science is driven by evidence gathered in experiments, and by the falsification of extant theories and their replacement with newer, asymptotically truer, ones. Other systems - religion, nationalism, paranoid ideation, or art - are based on personal experiences (faith, inspiration, paranoia, etc.). Experiential narratives can and do interact with evidential narratives and vice versa.

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For instance: belief in God inspires some scientists who regard science as a method to "sneak a peek at God's cards" and to get closer to Him. Another example: the pursuit of scientific endeavors enhances one's national pride and is motivated by it. Science is often corrupted in order to support nationalistic and racist claims. The basic units of all narratives are known by their effects on the environment. God, in this sense, is no different from electrons, quarks, and black holes. All four constructs cannot be directly observed, but the fact of their existence is derived from their effects. Granted, God's effects are discernible only in the social and psychological (or psychopathological) realms. But this observed constraint doesn't render Him less "real". The hypothesized existence of God parsimoniously explains a myriad ostensibly unrelated phenomena and, therefore, conforms to the rules governing the formulation of scientific theories. The locus of God's hypothesized existence is, clearly and exclusively, in the minds of believers. But this again does not make Him less real. The contents of our minds are as real as anything "out there". Actually, the very distinction between epistemology and ontology is blurred. But is God's existence "true" - or is He just a figment of our neediness and imagination? Truth is the measure of the ability of our models to describe phenomena and predict them. God's existence (in people's minds) succeeds to do both. For instance, assuming that God exists allows us to predict many of the behaviors of people who profess to believe in Him. The

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existence of God is, therefore, undoubtedly true (in this formal and strict sense). But does God exist outside people's minds? Is He an objective entity, independent of what people may or may not think about Him? After all, if all sentient beings were to perish in a horrible calamity, the Sun would still be there, revolving as it has done from time immemorial. If all sentient beings were to perish in a horrible calamity, would God still exist? If all sentient beings, including all humans, stop believing that there is God - would He survive this renunciation? Does God "out there" inspire the belief in God in religious folks' minds? Known things are independent of the existence of observers (although the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics disputes this). Believed things are dependent on the existence of believers. We know that the Sun exists. We don't know that God exists. We believe that God exists - but we don't and cannot know it, in the scientific sense of the word. We can design experiments to falsify (prove wrong) the existence of electrons, quarks, and black holes (and, thus, if all these experiments fail, prove that electrons, quarks, and black holes exist). We can also design experiments to prove that electrons, quarks, and black holes exist. But we cannot design even one experiment to falsify the existence of a God who is outside the minds of believers (and, thus, if the experiment fails, prove that God exists "out there"). Additionally, we cannot design even one

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experiment to prove that God exists outside the minds of believers. What about the "argument from design"? The universe is so complex and diverse that surely it entails the existence of a supreme intelligence, the world's designer and creator, known by some as "God". On the other hand, the world's richness and variety can be fully accounted for using modern scientific theories such as evolution and the big bang. There is no need to introduce God into the equations. Still, it is possible that God is responsible for it all. The problem is that we cannot design even one experiment to falsify this theory, that God created the Universe (and, thus, if the experiment fails, prove that God is, indeed, the world's originator). Additionally, we cannot design even one experiment to prove that God created the world. We can, however, design numerous experiments to falsify the scientific theories that explain the creation of the Universe (and, thus, if these experiments fail, lend these theories substantial support). We can also design experiments to prove the scientific theories that explain the creation of the Universe. It does not mean that these theories are absolutely true and immutable. They are not. Our current scientific theories are partly true and are bound to change with new knowledge gained by experimentation. Our current scientific theories will be replaced by newer, truer theories. But any and all future scientific theories will be falsifiable and testable.

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Knowledge and belief are like oil and water. They don't mix. Knowledge doesn't lead to belief and belief does not yield knowledge. Belief can yield conviction or stronglyfelt opinions. But belief cannot result in knowledge. Still, both known things and believed things exist. The former exist "out there" and the latter "in our minds" and only there. But they are no less real for that. Read Note on Complexity and Simplicity Read Note on Scientific Theories and the Life Cycles of Science Return

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God and Science II. Is God Necessary? Could God have failed to exist (especially considering His omnipotence)? Could He have been a contingent being rather than a necessary one? Would the World have existed without Him and, more importantly, would it have existed in the same way? For instance: would it have allowed for the existence of human beings? To say that God is a necessary being means to accept that He exists (with His attributes intact) in every possible world. It is not enough to say that He exists only in our world: this kind of claim will render Him contingent (present in some worlds - possibly in none! - and absent in others). We cannot conceive of the World without numbers, relations, and properties, for instance. These are necessary entities because without them the World as we known and perceive it would not exist. Is this equally true when we contemplate God? Can we conceive of a God-less World? Moreover: numbers, relations, and properties are abstracts. Yet, God is often thought of as a concrete being. Can a concrete being, regardless of the properties imputed to it, ever be necessary? Is there a single concrete being God - without which the Universe would have perished, or not existed in the first place? If so, what makes God a privileged concrete entity?

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Additionally, numbers, relations, and properties depend for their existence (and utility) on other beings, entities, and quantities. Relations subsist between objects; properties are attributes of things; numbers are invariably either preceded by other numbers or followed by them. Does God depend for His existence on other beings, entities, quantities, properties, or on the World as a whole? If He is a dependent entity, is He also a derivative one? If He is dependent and derivative, in which sense is He necessary? Many philosophers confuse the issue of existence with that of necessity. Kant and, to some extent, Frege, argued that existence is not even a logical predicate (or at least not a first-order logical predicate). But, far more crucially, that something exists does not make it a necessary being. Thus, contingent beings exist, but they are not necessary (hence their "contingency"). At best, ontological arguments deal with the question: does God necessarily exist? They fail to negotiate the more tricky: can God exist only as a Necessary Being (in all possible worlds)? Modal ontological arguments even postulate as a premise that God is a necessary being and use that very assumption as a building block in proving that He exists! Even a rigorous logician like Gödel fell in this trap when he attempted to prove God's necessity. In his posthumous ontological argument, he adopted several dubious definitions and axioms:

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(1) God's essential properties are all positive (Definition 1); (2) God necessarily exists if and only if every essence of His is necessarily exemplified (Definition 3); (3) The property of being God is positive (Axiom 3); (4) Necessary existence is positive (Axiom 5). These led to highly-debatable outcomes: (1) For God, the property of being God is essential (Theorem 2); (2) The property of being God is necessarily exemplified. Gödel assumed that there is one universal closed set of essential positive properties, of which necessary existence is a member. He was wrong, of course. There may be many such sets (or none whatsoever) and necessary existence may not be a (positive) property (or a member of some of the sets) after all. Worst of all, Gödel's "proof" falls apart if God does not exist (Axiom 3's veracity depends on the existence of a God-like creature). Plantinga has committed the very same error a decade earlier (1974). His ontological argument incredibly relies on the premise: "There is a possible world in which there is God!" Veering away from these tautological forays, we can attempt to capture God's alleged necessity by formulating this Axiom Number 1: "God is necessary (i.e. necessarily exists in every possible world) if there are objects or entities that would not have existed in any possible world in His absence."

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We should complement Axiom 1 with Axiom Number 2: "God is necessary (i.e. necessarily exists in every possible world) even if there are objects or entities that do not exist in any possible world (despite His existence)." The reverse sentences would be: Axiom Number 3: "God is not necessary (i.e. does not necessarily exist in every possible world) if there are objects or entities that exist in any possible world in His absence." Axiom Number 4: "God is not necessary (i.e. does not necessarily exist in every possible world) if there are no objects or entities that exist in any possible world (despite His existence)." Now consider this sentence: Axiom Number 5: "Objects and entities are necessary (i.e. necessarily exist in every possible world) if they exist in every possible world even in God's absence." Consider abstracta, such as numbers. Does their existence depend on God's? Not if we insist on the language above. Clearly, numbers are not dependent on the existence of God, let alone on His necessity. Yet, because God is all-encompassing, surely it must incorporate all possible worlds as well as all impossible ones! What if we were to modify the language and recast the axioms thus:

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Axiom Number 1: "God is necessary (i.e. necessarily exists in every possible and impossible world) if there are objects or entities that would not have existed in any possible world in His absence." We should complement Axiom 1 with Axiom Number 2: "God is necessary (i.e. necessarily exists in every possible and impossible world) even if there are objects or entities that do not exist in any possible world (despite His existence)." The reverse sentences would be: Axiom Number 3: "God is not necessary (i.e. does not necessarily exist in every possible and impossible world) if there are objects or entities that exist in any possible world in His absence." Axiom Number 4: "God is not necessary (i.e. does not necessarily exist in every possible and impossible world) if there are no objects or entities that exist in any possible world (despite His existence)." Now consider this sentence: Axiom Number 5: "Objects and entities are necessary (i.e. necessarily exist in every possible and impossible world) if they exist in every possible world even in God's absence."

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According to the Vander Laan modification (2004) of the Lewis counterfactuals semantics, impossible worlds are worlds in which the number of propositions is maximal. Inevitably, in such worlds, propositions contradict each other (are inconsistent with each other). In impossible worlds, some counterpossibles (counterfactuals with a necessarily false antecedent) are true or non-trivially true. Put simply: with certain counterpossibles, even when the premise (the antecedent) is patently false, one can agree that the conditional is true because of the (true, formally correct) relationship between the antecedent and the consequent. Thus, if we adopt an expansive view of God - one that covers all possibilities and impossibilities - we can argue that God's existence is necessary. Appendix: Ontological Arguments regarding God's Existence As Lewis (In his book "Anselm and Actuality", 1970) and Sobel ("Logic and Theism", 2004) noted, philosophers and theologians who argued in favor of God's existence have traditionally proffered tautological (questionbegging) arguments to support their contentious contention (or are formally invalid). Thus, St. Anselm proposed (in his much-celebrated "Proslogion", 1078) that since God is the Ultimate Being, it essentially and necessarily comprises all modes of perfection, including necessary existence (a form of perfection). Anselm's was a prototypical ontological argument: God must exist because we can conceive of a being than which no greater can be conceived. It is an "end-of-the-line" God. Descartes concurred: it is contradictory to conceive

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